forza soda!

san pellegrino aranciata

To celebrate the 2010 World Cup, we are eating and drinking things from (or at least associated with) all (or at least many) of the countries involved (though how involved Australia were in their 4-0 drubbing by Germany I don’t know). Above: Italian Soda. We have also had Baguette and Boursin (France),  Burritos, Margaritas, Quesadillas (Mexico, but we don’t need a World Cup for all those!), and a bottle of Carlsberg Elephant (Denmark). England has been represented by that Trifle, of course, but I also had a can of Strongbow, and as for America, well we live there and I think we had McDonalds the other day. Many other world foods and drinks to check off the list (I’m particularly looking forward to the Swiss chocolate). The Italian soda though was very very good. I had another one today, while out sketching in Sacramento. It may be my new favourite drink on a hot day. 

Tomorrow we’ll have South African curry, with a nice South African wine. I do love a curry. I just need to get some vuvuzelas to blast all through dinner, and it’ll be complete.

may the sixth be with you

The UK General Election is upon us. Unlike in the US, where the election date is known years in advance and the campaigning goes on for about three hundred years, filling the airways with irritating paid-for campaign ads, British elections are called with only about a month of soapboxing and eggfacing until the big day, and the long swingometer-filled night. Also unlike America, Britain is not electing a President, but a party to govern. We’ve all become very comfortable with being uncomfortable at how ‘presidential’ our Prime Ministers are getting (ie, they brush their hair and grin a lot), so with thought in mind, which of the three below do you think will become our next ‘presidential’ PM?

gordon brown

See, I’m glad Gordon Brown (above) is not a smiler, and has unbrushable hair. Makes him less presidential. David Cameron (below) on the other hand, old Etonian, friendly chap, cheeky grin, America will love him like they loved Blair. Like so many pop groups before them, our PMs probably feel they can only be truly big if they can break America.

david cameron

He has a big forehead doesn’t he. By the way, America, if you’re following the UK Election, Blue means Conservatives and Red means Labour. Red is the traditional colour of international socialism; it’s only the US that has that the other way round, where it means the colour of Limbaugh-loving necks.

And then in the Yellow corner there is the Other Bloke, who by all accounts won the UK’s first presidential – i mean, prime ministerial – debate (it’s not like they don’t already debate in the House of Commons though, is it). These debates mean nothing, the Liberal Democrats aren’t ever going to really win a general nick cleggelection, because they are deliberately ignored by the Murdoch press (the true rulers of the UK). Unless…surely not? Nick Clegg (right) is apparently becoming swiftly popular, and let’s face it, Brits (like Americans, to whom we gave most of our reality TV shows) love nothing more than an instant overnight popular political hero – oh, what am I saying, there is one thing Brits like more, and that is knocking said hero off his perch and dragging said hero through the razor mill of the tabloid press (hello again, Mr. Murdoch). 

No, he’s not smaller because my Murdoch-payroll editors have instructed me not to get in the way of their Tory revival saga (I’m not The Times, you know). More that the sketch simply looks nothing like him, but hey, I don’t really know what he looks like, or stands for. I know he looks a bit like Philip Schofield, David Duchovny, Kilroy and Jim Davison (shuddering at the thought). Time for me to do some reading up on this election. I won’t get to vote, but I also won’t get to live through the consequences, now I’m over here in Obama-world. I do really miss British politics, honestly I do, I want to watch Paxman, I want to watch Dimbleby, I want interactive 3d Swingometers, I want to see eggs on faces and Prescott punches (whoever the modern equivalent of Prescott is), staying up all night and watching the results of Haltemprice & Howden and Cannock Chase and other places I’d never heard of. This election even looks like it might actually be a three horse race (unlike the last few, which were definitely one-horse races). I drew a political cartoon which got onto the Channel 4 web site last time (Goldilocks and the Three Unbearables), I need to sharpen that pencil again (Last of the Summer Whine: Foggy, Compo and Clegg would be a start, cascading down the hill in a tin bath).

At least this time I won’t need to stay up all night. I’m eight hours behind, so hopefully it’ll all be decided by midnight. I suspect Labour may have to do a deal with the Lib Dems to keep the Tories out of Number 10; if not, Brown won’t have a Clegg to stand on. May the Sixth be with you.

cake that

half-eaten 2nd birthday cake

It was my son’s birthday; I made the cake. Here it is, half-eaten (or is it half-uneaten, whichever is the more positive sounding…) It was very nice cake. I thought this wasn’t going to become a food-blog? I haven’t baked a cake in years, I mean years. I was all for doing a nice Victoria sponge with jam and buttercream in it, but for some reason couldn’t pluck up the courage. Besides, ingredients here always seem to have different names from their British recipe counterparts when I get to the store.

It’s what first frustrated me when I moved here. I remember back then, I forget what I was making, but I couldn’t find double cream anywhere, had no idea what Americans called it. Out went half my recipes. No coriander? Well I’ll use cilantro instead. Biscuits are a type of bready thing you get at KFC, not something you dip in your tea. Even now I’m still not sure if America has any swede in any of its grocery stores (I’ve had mashed-swede-&-carrot-free roasts for over four years now), it may be disguised as something else. The perils of being a Brit abroad. 

But cake, on the other hand, is surely cake! So I used a cake mix, from a box, Betty Crocker, just add eggs, oil and water. Kind of cheating I know. But it was bloody good, I will say, and my son (who had been looking forward to this much-hyped birthday cake for days) was super impressed, and that’s the main thing.

Drawn in the moleskine diary.

bye bye tree

last view of the tree, till next year

It’s January 6th, so time to take down the tree, and put away the decorations! This is our little tree we got for our first Xmas in America, and we still have it. The ornaments, mostly my wife’s, go back years; some are older than I am, I think. The corner will look so bare without the tree, even though only half the lights were working on it (I never got around to changing them!). Oh well, it really is a new year now.

day of the jack-a-lantern

happy hallowe'en

So, Happy Hallowe’en folks. I might be the only person in America who spells it with an apostrophe. That’s ok. This is the smaller of our two pumpkins, this is the baby one for my toddler son. He tries his best to say ‘Jack-a-Lantern’ but it comes out as ‘Gelarkajah!’ which is infinitely cuter.

So October is over. Not been my favourite October ever, but, you know. November begins tomorrow. I will not be attempting the NaNoWriMo novel writing challenge this year because it will be interrupted by a trip home to draw things in England. Shame because I have an idea for a story; maybe I’ll motivate myself to write it one day. Or maybe I’ll draw pumpkins.

call the engines, call the engines

luke's fire truck

My wife got me a new small Moleskine diary, and it’s awesome; it’s 18 month so started in July, and fits right in my pocket. I christened it with a drawing of my son’s fire truck, given to him at the weekend by his great-grandma. I might draw in this fairly often, something small to commemorate or represent each week. Maybe.